China Powering Ahead With Nuclear Plant Construction

Half the 56 new nuclear power plants due to start commercial operation by 2015 are in China, according to the latest update of plants under construction by the World Nuclear Association. Unlike Japan and Europe, China hasn’t scaled back its nuclear plans in the wake of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident last year, just delayed them pending new safety regulations.

The association estimates that China’s 15 existing plants (the association includes one in Taiwan) have a capacity of 11,881 MWes. Its 26 plants under construction will add 27,640 MWes of capacity. A further 57,480 MWes of capacity is on the drawing board. It says:

In China, now with 14 operating reactors on the mainland, the country is well into the next phase of its nuclear power program. Some 26 reactors are under construction and many more are likely to be so in 2012. Those under construction include the world’s first Westinghouse AP1000 units, and a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant is due to start construction. Many more units are planned, with construction due to start within three years. But most capacity under construction will be the largely indigenous CPR-1000. China aims at least to quadruple its nuclear capacity from that operating and under construction by 2020.

Earlier this month, Ren Jungshen, a nuclear safety expert at China’s Ministry of Environment Protection, said that China’s nuclear industry was on track to hit its capacity targets for 2015 and 2020, the biggest hint to date that China’s nuclear power program was resuming.

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